The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

April 30, 2010

Plastic-Free Living: Let’s Talk

snl-coffee-talkAs you read this, I am away on a meditation retreat recharging my batteries.  (Yeah, my batteries are rechargeable.)  I’m away from computers and phones and all the electronic means of communication.  I’m trying not to think about how crazy my email inbox will be when I return.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what questions you have about living plastic-free.  Some of them might be questions I myself still have!  And knowing what is important to you will help me figure out where to focus my attention in writing this blog.  I don’t always know what I’m missing until it hits me on the head.  (Please be gentle.)

Before commenting, you might want to check my list of plastic-free changes to see if your question has already been answered:

Another question: What is the most important reason for reducing plastic consumption? I find that people’s interest in this issue comes from various concerns: personal health, protection of wildlife, etc.

And finally, what does plastic-free living mean to you?

For me, it means acquiring no new plastic, meaning virgin plastic, refusing to store in/eat food from plastic kitchenware/containers.  As you saw in my dental hygiene post, there is some plastic I am not willing to give up. What about you? What are your limits?

Talk amongst yourselves.  See you when I get back!

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The relationship is more important.


Don’t buy toys. It’s a racket. Scam. I am a mom of four – get them a few dolls, a few games and a deck of cards. After they adjust, they’ll take care of the rest.


Please show us a picture of your pantry!!!!


What do you do for pantyhose? I don’t wear them much, but sometimes they are very useful. I have some nice skirts and dresses I like to wear to formal occasions and it’s not always warm enough here for bare legs and sandals.


Another thought from me. Since the giant floating island of plastic has been brought up I was wondering about fishing lures. I know one could use bugs and worms but the store sells tons of litle plastic squiggly things to THROW into the water. Sure its supposed to be attached to the hook but really many are lost. I wonder if the fishing industry is taking any steps to change habits or materials. You mentioned how some of these biodegradable forks and things aren’t degrading as quickly. I’ve now seen a credit card offer where ‘the card will degrade within… Read more »


I’m interested in natural alternatives for sports clothing and bras for large-busted women.


My big issue is kids. I know you don’t have them, but I do. How do I tell my five year old autistic son that he can’t have the Fisher-Price rocket ship he’s been craving for months, especially when he’s due a reward for *finally* being toilet trained? It’s so hard. The world of kids is one of plastic. All their toys are plastic. The packaging is plastic. Their night nappies are plastic. Sure, I could go to cloth, but then I’m even more exhausted than I am now. How can we, as parents, ever get around the kid-plastic-thing, without… Read more »

Tina Clark

chokingplanet, as far as dog poop bags, try: It’s the best way I’ve found so far.

Kate E.

I absolutely LOVE this blog and reading all of the comments fills me up with such joy to be among like-minded people! My biggest issue for plastic is food choices. We eat lots of fruits and veggies, but I’ve noticed that so many of them are pre-packaged in plastic. Some are easy to find alternatives to, like picking my own apples and putting them in a cotton bag that I bring to the store, but others, like berries are nowhere to be found unless they are frozen in a plastic bag or stored in a plastic clamshell. I think it’s… Read more »


I agree that buying from bulk bins may reduce the amount of packaging involved but I am curious about the actual impact and if it isn’t smaller than one might think. It isn’t as if the food goes straight from the farmer’s field into the bins at the store. What is the food put into during all the intermediate steps? I’ve seen the store employees emptying cardboard boxes full of plastic bags and foil pouches into bulk bins. Some of these packages don’t seem that much bigger than what you might find if you shopped at Costco and bought the… Read more »


The one area I’m really clueless about is in regards to medical supplies. I realize that I can’t have Grandma’s prescriptions refilled in my own glass jar, but there is still a lot of plastic involved in caregiving. The only thing I really know to do is to find alternatives for the supplemental items (non-prescription miscellany like lotion, denture cream, bed pads…diabetic socks).


Hi Beth, I was turned on to your blog just this morning when I was lamenting to a friend that I was in reverse culture shock after returning to the US from rural beachy Mexico after many, many months abroad. We had run into the Whole Foods for “a few things” and I first walked the aisles gazing at all the choices. I was recalling times that I would have loved this kind of sauce or soap or cheese. My excitement turned to a strange, overwhelming sadness when it seemed all I could see were items in plastic. It was… Read more »


One thing that just eats me up is cost. It actually costs more to choose plastic free options. And for many of us on a very small budget, food stamps, unemployment, this matters. I cook from scratch for a family of 5, we buy tons of fresh fruit, veggies, beans, rice etc to eat healthy, simple meals, but when a 1 lb bag of dried beans costs 90 cents and the bulk is $1.75/lb, it adds up. I grow my own veggies when I can, but in WI, most things come packaged, esp in winter. And the local farmers markets… Read more »


What do you do when you throw a party? I graduated from undergrad recently (I walked yesterday!) and had a party at my place the night before. My parents brought me beer in two big growlers (basically a wine jug that you take to a microbrewery and get it refilled), but I was at a loss for cups. I gave in and bought the notorious red plastic cups because 1) I didn’t have enough glasses for everyone who was coming and 2) this was a college party, and I didn’t want all my glasses broken. So…what do you do when… Read more »


chokingplanet, read this page and the comments about dog poop bags, maybe it’ll help:


Plastic is a fabulous thing. We can make just about anything we want with it. It’s the material of a million functions and that’s why it is so hard to convince people to seek alternatives. So my wish is that plastic be as bio-degradable as possible and that it be of clearly identifiable types. The most egregious use of plastic is the bag – from function to trash in minutes. here is my collection of bags for a week (bike helmet for reference) and I don’t use plastic bags. These are collected from the mail and found on the street… Read more »


I’d like to hear ideas on emergency supplies. I live I a place that has anual risks of floods and hurricanes. We have to store enough fresh water and non perishible foods plus have all the other first aid gear and charged flashlights. You don’t want to imagine that amount of plastic in every house in America and I’m not even including the generator & gas impacts! I can go without a shower and ‘camp’ out without power for a bit but there are basic needs. We do fill the bathtub with water and re-fill jugs for hand washing and… Read more »


I’m not living plastic-free, but I am way more conscious of the stuff around me and I try to avoid it whenever possible. I reuse all the little palstic bags for vegetable and fruit shopping, I try to avoid food that is packed in plastic as much as possible. However, I’m sad that there are some things I cannot change and those things make me consume more plastic than I want to. For example, I tried shampoo bars, but my skin is tricky and I got rashes from them. So, back to the organic shampoo that comes in a plastic… Read more »


Raspberries? Where do you find berries w/out the plastic clamshell? I’ve checked the Farmer’s Market at the ferry building and so far no raspberries or blueberries yet (they did have strawberries). Consequently, I’ve been guiltily indulging in raspberries that come packaged in the plastic clamshell from Whole Foods. Also, checked Rainbow and no luck. :( As far as the questions regarding sunscreen… I did manage to find sunscreen in a glass bottle (although the pump is plastic). It’s from Jurilique and is super pricey ($60 for a small bottle) but it smells heavenly (like lavender) and is super light with… Read more »

Lara S.

Thanks to your blog, I don’t think I have questions about plastic itself right now, except some how to get some products without plastic containers, etc. The huge questions that bother me come from the fact that I see plastic as just a part of the big problem of excessive consumption. It is useful and cheap, and it’s logic, in a world that seeks to consume more and more, to use and throw away tons of useful and cheap materials. So while the challenge of us trying to cut down on plastic seems to be just finding alternatives that are… Read more »


I thought about you Beth as I was shopping today. What do you use on your bathtub? I have an awful fiberglass tub that seems to only come clean when I use Scrubbing Bubbles. This means I have a choice between a metal can or plastic bottle. I am not sure I can go completely plastic free, but want to eliminate as much as possible. I have started to really watch my choices. Today I bought laundry soap that comes in a cardboard box. I use natural cleaning products when I can, as I would love to be plastic bottle… Read more »


It is so discouraging to see our world being destroyed by society’s love of oil and its products especially plastic. Look at the oil leak in the gulf, a true disaster. Anyway I was on my little beach on Lake Ontario today and found a rusted out can of zippo lighter fluid, the can was almost rusted away but the little plastic top with the red part that lifts up was quite intact and it struck me I will pick it up and throw it away but it will be around for 1000 years or more! I am trying to… Read more »


I’m a plastic-novice, only starting out in trying to avoid the stuff, but one thing that’s struck me is the prevalence of plastic buttons on clothes. i know you can always take them off and replace with non-plastic varieties, but the originals still exist. Or maybe that’s just in the UK??


I’m not as gungho on plastic-free as I am on greatly reducing plastic waste. Certainly, making the choice to avoid single-use plastic (or anything) is the minimum anyone who cares about the planet should do. Eliminating that alone would have profound impact.

Any ideas on dog poop bags? The bags are not allowed in the compst bin, so even compostable bags are pointless (maybe even worse) since it goes to the landfill. I’ve thought about using newspaper (the freebies that are left on the doorstep unasked for). But maybe there are other ideas out there.


I found this method for making sunscreen at home, but haven’t tried it yet: . It calls for using plastic and discarding it, but I would think that it would be possible to keep a glass mason jar and a found plastic spoon specifically for this purpose. I would probably keep an old tube to refill for on-the-go needs, but the bulk would be better suited stored in a jar; just dip into it and close the jar.

Condo Blues

I’m curious about sunscreen too. I’m very fair skinned and burn easily. Once I got a nasty sunburn by sitting next to a sunny window! I switched to an environmentally friendly zinc based sunscreen that comes in a plastic tube. The other option is a sunscreen in a metal tube with not so environmentally friendly ingredients. Both options are recyclable locally. I prefer the former! Since I know two people who have been diagnosed with skin cancer going without isn’t an option for me. I often use a paper Japanese parasol if I’m going to a street fair or something… Read more »

Suzy Q.

I guess this isn’t so much a “how do you avoid this plastic” question as a lifestyle question… How do you deal with close loved ones who repeatedly refuse to “get it”? I don’t mean they won’t convert to a plastic-free life style, I mean they refuse to comprehend and allow what you’re doing in your life. Do you have any? My mother in particular is maddening (for other reasons as well, but this is new for her) to interact with. Perfect strangers and most friends may roll their eyes and think I’m crazy, but at least they respond to… Read more »


Any ideas on how to get newspapers to be delivered without that plastic sleeve? (We enjoy the daily paper instead of the T.V.) I don’t use plastic bags at stores for my produce or carrying my food, but I still have a mountain of plastic bags to recycle from our newspaper. They only drop the papers out of their car windows onto the sidewalk so the plastic sleeve protects it. Where did all the paperboys go?


I was at the beach the other day and wondered what you do about sunscreen. We’re following closely in your footsteps, working on moving from garbage-free to eliminating plastic from our lives. I haven’t done much research, but this is one area in which I’m currently stumped.